SAN FRANCISCO -- Nvidia Corp. said a ruling issued Monday (July 26) by the U.S. International Trade Commission finding that some of its products violate patents held by Rambus Inc. would have "no impact" on customers.
The ITC issued a cease-and-desist order to bar the importation and sale of certain chips made by Nvidia after finding that the devices violate patents three held by Rambus. The cease-and-desist order is subject to review by the White House.
An Nvidia spokesperson said the company would take a license from Rambus that Rambus was required to make available as a condition of a 2009 settlement with the European Commission.
In addition to Nvidia, the ITC order is directed at several Nvidia customers, including Hewlett-Packard Co., ASUS Computer International Inc. and Palit Microsystems Ltd.
The spokesperson for Nvidia (Santa Clara, Calif.) said via email that the "mixed" ruling by the ITC favors Rambus on three patents and Nvidia on two.
The administrative law judge's January ruling found that two the Rambus patents involved in the case were invalid and unenforceable.
"There will be no impact on our customers or our business as a result of this ruling," the spokesperson said. "We intend to take advantage of the mandatory European Commission License that is available. This will allow us and our partners to continue our business under the terms of that license and prevent the enforcement of any exclusion order. In the meantime, we intend to appeal the case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and continue to press our arguments on these patents before the USPTO."
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year rejected 49 claims in patents that Rambus asserted against Nvidia. Rambus (Los Altos, Calif.) continues to fight that ruling.
The mandatory European Commission License is made available by Rambus as a condition of a 2009 settlement between Rambus and the European Commission, which had been investigating Rambus for supposed anti-competitive behavior. Rambus was required to make available for a period of five years a license to certain of its patents on memory controllers and certain memory.
"This is the license we intend to take from them within the 60-day presidential review period," the Nvidia spokesperson said.
The ITC ruling, which applies to chips having synchronous DRAM, affirmed a decision by one of the organization's administrative law judges in January. The ITC investigation followed a complaint filed by Rambus in December 2008.
Rambus said in a statement that under the ITC's limited exclusion order, the infringing products may be imported and sold during a 60-day presidential review period if Nvidia posts a bond. The commission has specified that the bond amount is 2.65 percent of the entered value of the subject imports.
A spokesperson for Nvidia said the company planned to post the bond to comply.
"We are extremely pleased with the ITC’s decision to issue a limited exclusion order, signaling the strength of our innovation efforts beyond the Farmwald-Horowitz patents of our founders," said Thomas Lavelle, Rambus' senior vice president and general counsel. "The value of our patented inventions has been recognized by our current licensees, and we will continue our efforts to license others."
what you guys are missing is rambus started offering their IP to the industry over 10 years ago...the industry blew them off, stole their IP, and conspired against the Intel selected rambus design for dram, driving it from the market...rambus is consistently winning in courts and government commissions...nvidia, samsung, etc....neither of these guys would have signed if they had not lost or were facing loss in courts...what's sad is rambus has to bring these companies to court to get what is legally theirs
USPTO and the likes should perhaps be more strict in granting patents?
I agree with Feory. At times I think the current IP protection system is defeating its purpose.New legislation should be put in place to put an end to certain abuses of the system, in my opinion.
Less than 2 weeks ago, Rambus proudly announced the issuance of their 1000th patent, and noted they have over 700 applications pending.
For such a small company, this seems absurd. Yes, I know they are an IP licensing company, so patents are what fuel their revenue. But our patent system is so broken, at some point people are patenting things that were either already invented or are so obvious to a skilled engineer that nobody can design anything without infringing on someone's patent and risking a lawsuit.
The patent madness has really gotten out of control over the last couple decades, to the point where the patent system is seriously stifling innovation.
There is nothing to worry. All these firms violate patents with ease and settle among themselves when lawyers have become richer. The reality is that engineers get peanuts while the lawyers smile home and depress earnings. I do not worry over these rulings because it is part of the trade. Sue me and I sue you; lawyers seat over a bottom of wine, sign some documents, visit the bank and everyone is settled. White House must not follow the ITC in this case. All semiconductor firms violate patents daily and Nvidia must not be destroyed.
Nvidia must be careful that it does not go out of business. It just a bad press from Businessweek last week, now this one. They need to put that firm back to its old glorious days.